Larger than life

ImageIt's been nearly nine years since the Brooklyn-born rapper known as Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles, and despite the mountain of newsprint devoted to the murder, his killer's never been caught.

But as big as B.I.G. was in life -- the guy stood 6 feet tall and weighed close to 400 pounds -- he looms even larger today, an almost mythical figure in hip-hop. (His second album, released after his death, debuted at No. 1 and went platinum 10 times over.) Next week, his mother, Voletta Wallace, is releasing a CD titled ''The Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter," a remix of her son's rhymes with new words by Diddy, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Ludacris, among other MCs. Wallace will be in Boston tonight for a private listening party; we reached her this week in New York.


Q. You're on tour. How's it going?

A. I am, and so far it's been wonderful. I'm getting a lot of love for my son. In the past, I didn't know who B.I.G. was. I only knew who Christopher Wallace was.

Q. And who was he?

A. Well, people loved him because he was talented and he was honest. People have been thanking me for having Notorious B.I.G. (Laughs.)

Q. Were Christopher Wallace and B.I.G. alike or different?

A. Notorious was an entertainer. I don't know anything about that world. I just see that on TV. I know Christopher as the warm and gentle person who can sit and cry when he's sad or smile when he's happy. I know him as someone who cares for his kids and his mother. When he's home, he's just my baby.

Q. You're speaking about him in the present tense.

A. I'm sad to say I do that a lot.

Q. Is that a conscious thing?

A. No, it's not. Sometimes I have to kick myself to remind myself that he's not here.

Q. Parents who lose a child never get over it.

A. I'll never get over it. Christopher was my only child and my best friend, and for that to be taken away, it hurts a great deal. I ask my friends to just give me a hug and ask me if I wish to talk about it. I get solace hearing his music. I don't know what other parents do.

Q. B.I.G.'s become something of a martyr. Does it bother you to see him portrayed that way?

A. It doesn't please me and it doesn't bother me. I don't think about it. I didn't see Christopher as a star. He's someone who eats and drinks coffee at my dining room table.

Q. But his persona was rather violent.

A. Yes, he spoke of violence and God knows what other grotesque things when he rapped. I'm not crazy about rap music. My son's world was his world. When he comes to my home, he's my clean son, not the nasty-mouthed rapper.

Q. Is this really ''The Final Chapter"? And what do you say to people who say you're just cashing in?

A. My goal is just to make people happy who want to hear more of Christopher's music. As far as cashing in, that's their opinion. It's not mine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This is good work.

Q. If he hadn't been murdered, what would B.I.G. be doing now?

A. To be honest, the last night I spoke to my son, he said he was too old to be rapping, so he'd probably be producing albums, working on a clothing line, or managing a record company. I know he wouldn't be rapping at 33.

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